Are we all working too hard? During the 19th century, labour leaders campaigned for the “eight-hour day”. Until that point, it was common to work six days a week, with a typical working day of between 10-16 hours. New technologies and stricter labour laws seemed to be paving the way for an increased life of leisure, with the economist John Maynard Keynes going so far as to predict a 15-hour week within a century.

In recent years, some companies have been trailing a four-day work week. One New Zealand firm has recently declared its experiment a resounding success, arguing that its employees are much more productive if they have more time to recuperate and balance other commitments. Proponents argue that a shorter working week favours employees looking for more flexibility, including people trying to balance caring for children or other family members. However, some argue that stress levels can actually go up, as employees are expected to do more with less time, and they see a four-day work week as an excuse to cut salaries while expecting workers to do the same amount of work.

In the Netherlands, it is already common for employees to take a “mummy day” or “daddy day” off each week to look after their kids. The Dutch work on average only around 29 hours a week, yet the Netherlands is still one of the wealthiest countries in the world, with a GDP per capita of over $50,000. Should more countries follow their lead?

Should everyone have a four-day work week? Are we all working too hard? Could a four-day work week promote lower stress levels and happier, more productive employees? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: Bigstock (c) – Flynt

28 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar

    The question is whom? Sounds to me mostly government employees…

    Not everybody has the luxury to have 4-day weeks. What about doctors, service industry (bus, train, tram, taxi), airport, etc…

    • avatar

      Well, that could be resolved hiring more doctors and technicians that would also help to lower the unemployment level.
      My concerns are about the salary, not many people earn so much that they can afford a cut of 20%.

    • avatar
      Stefan Gräßlin

      the idea is that everybody should have the “luxury” of a 4 days week. even doctors, service industry (bus, train, tram, taxi), airport, etc… we have to reorganize some things to make it happen.

  2. avatar

    It can be scientifically demonstrated that there are maximum values (that are a statistical averages) for a good physical and mental health that should not be exceeded. Lower values than these maximum values are political management, or governmental or religion ones.

  3. avatar

    If you only want to be paid for a 4 day week, not sure people would be happy taking a 20% pay cut though.

  4. avatar

    Feel free to apply it at Debating Europe or Friends of Europe and then let us know!

  5. avatar
    Nádia Correia

    Maybe decreasing right away to 4h would be too extreme, but just going back to the 6h day we had before would be great. We should be working less and be able to take better care of our families. we would need less money to actually hire extra services because we work too much. Our kids should not be 8h a day under someone else care and we should not be buying so much industrial and disposable items because we don’t have the time to produce or fix them on our own. Also our creativity and capacity to engage in non-profit activities, like volunteer and citizenship related activities, would be bigger and society could only benefit from that.

  6. avatar

    Will be an economical result due the fact that less and less people will produce the neccesary of living for more and more people. This means that will be a real crissis for jobs. The problem would be resolve, at first stage, by reducing the time for work.

    Somebody said that not only public jobs, not, will be for all jobs. Even for public service If will be 5 days working weak, also could be 6 days, but 3-4 days will work one, 3-4 days will work another. The same could be in privat sector.

  7. avatar

    Could be a start but in combination with other key factors.

  8. avatar

    Each country is different, that’s not an easy question to answer. What’s true is that we need to think not only about that but also on a new formula to spend more time with the family. I think it may work…

  9. avatar

    I think having a fixed minimum income per hour is better.

  10. avatar

    That would decrease the situation of over production. I hope protesters in France ask for this. Yes!

  11. avatar

    Great idea. Give more people a job. However must be subsidised by an unconditional basic income.

  12. avatar

    It shouldn’t be regulated at all. Small businesses can’t afford to hire employees if they have to pay a full payed leave day every week. We need jobs, not entitlements. If the employer is able to offer it, or the employee to negotiate it, then they should be free to do so, but just keep the government out of it.

  13. avatar

    I would go for a 6 hour 5 days a week.

  14. avatar

    New Zealand must be a very rich country in the other side of the world. EU must think out of the box to deal with this problems.

  15. avatar

    Interesting idea, which could help not only during these days but also addressing issues like countries facing higher unemployment rates as a result of these days companies tend to choose less stable employment relationship models, or the larger investment in automation, which reduces the number of job opportunities in several age segments. The first problem usually leads and turns much more difficult to young people, to build more stable lifes.

  16. avatar

    In Europe we work 2 days per week. Why covid19 urges us to work more?

  17. avatar

    And how will that make a land more competitive to the emerging industrial powers that have been beating EU through cheaper production costs since decades?!?! How will that make producing in EU more interesting? The current good life quality is owed a lot to the legacy of previous generations.
    Then, do you know how many unemployed there are in average EU countries?

  18. avatar

    Sounds great, as long as the wages are kept the same for at least the minimum wage.

  19. avatar

    It’s great if it keeps the same salary. Basically it will allow people more time to spent money and thus the same result will be achieved
    Let’s say a restaurant with two shifts that work 4 days a week, they will see more customers if the workers of other jobs come to eat there due to the fact that they have more free days
    Same goes for clothing and anything else one can imagine

  20. avatar
    Return the 80s movement

    First good thing i hear on this page. Yes thats best idea ever.

  21. avatar

    Yes we should. Studies and short scale applications have shown that the efficiency and productivity would be the same or even better, and people would have some quality time for themselves and their families.

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